Thursday, September 6, 2012
Report Finds Americans Wasteful of Food
Forty percent of the food Americans have available to them goes uneaten, according to a report released this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Most of this nutrient-rich uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills.
“This issue has received very little attention in the U.S.,” said Dana Gunders, a project scientist at the N.R.D.C. who specializes in food and agriculture. Yet a significant amount of land, energy and fresh water go into producing food for American consumers.
The report, which was mostly based on a compilation of existing research, states that edible food is wasted — or “lost” — in the country at many different levels of food production, distribution and consumption.
A study published by the Department of Agriculture about food loss in 2008 — the most recent year for which a full analysis has been done — states that $165.6 billion in food was wasted that year by food retailers and consumers. The study goes on to say that $390 worth of food per person was wasted in the United States in 2008.
While there is much speculation over the predominant reasons for the food loss — from unregulated expiration dating to a cultural distaste for aesthetically displeasing fruits and vegetables — one of the most telling aspects of the report is that there is not enough data to make a firm determination.
Ms. Gunders said the N.R.D.C. would like to see the government prioritize the issue of food loss and set goals for reducing the waste. Twenty-five percent of the fresh water used in the country “goes into getting food to our tables,” the report says, and Ms. Gunders said that because of the severe drought afflicting the country, “it’s a really opportune time to take a closer look at this issue.”